Labels


We’ve often been told that labels, in the context of putting people in boxes, is bad. Mostly true. As in, when we then use those labels to profile or segregate people. But labels in general? What did they do wrong? Isn’t it more the people hearing those labels, and the reactions they have to them, that are the problem?

For example, I say “the employment contract you signed says ‘don’t do the thing’ and you did the thing; why would you not expect consequences?” at work and I’m called ‘harsh’, ‘rude’, ‘not how the department should react’. I’m not at all bothered by what people think of me; what I’m more angered by is the fact that this person will get away with their actions because they put on some false anger and do the Storming Off In Indignation routine. And now it’s put down to ‘you handled it wrong’. When I ask how, I’m told ‘you should have been more tactful’. No, I say calmly, the person should not have tried to do the opposite of what he agreed to when he signed the contract. End of: level 1 disciplinary offence, case closed, move on. I’m told ‘it doesn’t work like that’, and now he’s ‘upset’.

*sigh*

Like I give an unidentified flying fuck how he feels; he broke a contract. Deal with him, get this done, move onto the next problem. This is why our department spends all our time in lengthy, drawn-out debates that take weeks to settle. That particular problem could have been solved in 10 minutes in a private meeting between Arsehole, his manager, and someone from our department. But no. Apparently ‘our way’ is dragging everything out.

Which brings me back to labels.

Arsing about on Tinternet this week has caused me, not for the first time, to stumble over the Myers Briggs personality test (or MBTI). In a rare case of ‘is it actually me and not everyone else after all?’, I took the test.

Basically it sorts everyone into 16 personality types (or labels). This in turn gives you insight into what inner forces drive you to act and speak as you do. I’ve done a few simple traits tests and associated tests before (including MENSA), but this one blew me away in terms of how accurate it was.

My label was INTJ. Or, in terms we can all understand, someone who is introverted, intuitive, thinks and judges. (Not in a judgey way, but in a weighing-up way.)

I’ve read a few different sources on what an INTJ is supposed to be like, and to be honest it’s scarily accurate. It also explains why there is so much frustration at work and on social platforms, and especially in areas that matter like who’s running a country and why nothing’s been done about it. For work purposes, it exposes a massive issue that has always been bubbling under the surface for me, but I never knew it was A Thing and therefore needed to be sorted. Now it’s been waved in my face, in apparently true INTJ style, I can work out what to do about it and then just do it.

It also explains why I get so pissed off when colleagues say things like ‘you shouldn’t say that out loud’ or ‘you need to be more professional’. I AM THE MOST PROFESSIONAL PERSON IN MY DEPARTMENT, UNCLEFUCKER. When was the last time I checked my phone during work hours? When was the last time I showed any emotion at all to someone asking stupid questions? When was the last time I held a grudge against someone because of their behaviour or general stupidity? When was the last time I gossiped? When was the last time I had anything on my web browser that wasn’t work-related? When was the last time I wore something inappropriate? When was the last time I was late, or fucked off early, or didn’t deliver my objectives, goals, or projects? When was the last time I didn’t do a handover, or communicate my research findings, or prepare for the latest oncoming storm?

I see these things going on around me all the time, and it staggers me. However, I keep a lid on it - because apparently calling people out on their lack of professionalism is frowned on - yeah, let the irony of that sink in for a moment. I channel my inner Spock - or rather, my inner T’Pol, seeing as she was completely alien and trapped on a ship full of either idiots, incompetents, or people of less insight and ability to think things through, or of much less life experience. I get shit done and I tune out everything that annoys me. And for this I’m called ‘unprofessional’ because THE ONE TIME I don’t manage to do this and say ‘FFS’ under my breath, my colleague hears it and assumes I’m thinking of resigning.

Yes, resigning. For some reason, she believes I am unhappy in my job. She believes that after one bad day you want to leave. I don’t understand - I genuinely don’t. Whether you enjoy the job or not, you still get paid to do that fucking job, and moaning about how much you don’t like it isn’t helping. Do the job or don’t - but don’t pretend that you didn’t know it was going to be like this when you accepted the offer of employment. I knew exactly what I was getting into when I joined the company, and I still know exactly what the place is, perhaps more so than others. The idea that I would want to leave because of one bad hour (not even an afternoon or day) is to me extremely immature. It also tells me that for some reason, she thinks I’m not enjoying my job. I asked her outright: Does my face tell people I hate them or something? Do I seriously have a Resting Fuck Off Face? She said that my face changes when I speak to people, from FUCK OFF into OH HI HOW CAN I MAKE YOUR LIFE BETTER?, but she worried what others thought when they saw my concentrating face.

*sigh*

Like I give a shit what someone thinks of an expression on my face WHEN I’M BUSY WORKING. What in the actual fuck? What is this, the Face Police? Can’t they all just get on with their work and stop gazing round the room and FINDING things to worry about? I’m pretty sure that’s not in their job description and - you know what I'm going to say next, right? It’s not PROFESSIONAL.

But anyway. Being an INTJ is apparently not an easy life, but now I’ve read things about how non-INTJs react to INTJs basically INTJing all over their workplace, I can see more of her side than before. The problem is the very basis of being INTJ is not really caring about people’s opinions toward you because it’s not quantifiable evidence that anything is ‘wrong’, and anyway, what’s ‘wrong’ with ‘wrong’? How many people in history have been ‘wrong’ at the time, but then later proven right? And not just in terms of facts (Galileo for example) but attitudes themselves (Star Trek, David Bowie, etc.).

It’s tiring being an INTJ, I’m not going to lie. It’s exhausting tuning out all the inane shit that people ‘small talk’ about, exhausting having to adhere to long drawn-out processes when you can see the logical ending and just want to skip to it. It’s tough to keep my mouth shut when I just want to say ‘can you not?’ to people trying to stop me from working through trying to be sociable or generally distracting. I don’t get nearly enough recognition for the number of times I stop myself from saying, calmly and quietly, ‘fuck off’.

I think that’s this week’s rant mostly out of my system. I’m sure there’ll be more, but now I know the root cause, I can make adjustments. And they won’t include spades or plastic sheeting.

Soopytwist.

Secrets and Lies



I’m baaack! And I bring more writings! Ladies, gentlemen, boths and neithers, I give you:


Title: Secrets and Lies

Rated T/Teen & Up for some naughty language, some violence and conduct unbecoming, snakes, and divine retribution.

Summary:
Lucifer has left LA for some Me Time in sunny Atlanta. Who should he bump into but John Constantine, just minding his own business tracking down a magical weapon of devastating power. With Lucifer now helping him, how wrong could it go? Set after Constantine S01, and Lucifer S02E13. No spoilers for anything after, as I haven’t seen that far yet! Case fic.

Disclaimer: 
I do not own Lucifer or Constantine the shows in any of its forms or any of the characters. This is all for fun, not for profit. Unless you add me to any favourites lists or leave reviews/comments.

Linky-link-link: HERE at An Archive of Our Own under my name TozaBoma (because they don’t re-edit your stuff later) and HERE at Fanfiction dot net under my name Mardy Lass.

If you even visit the page, I thank you.



It’s not you, it’s me


I don’t normally talk about work here, mostly because that’s between me and work colleagues. However, it’s now come to the point where I need to speculate out loud. And because my landlord/housemate downstairs is watching The Princess Bride, I guess I’ll be smiling while I do it.

I'm very comfortable where I am. And by that I mean I go to work, do 8 hours, then go home again. They even let me change my hours to make the day start and finish earlier. Doesn’t help much with the traffic, but it does help with my overall day. I’m free to get on with projects and things I think need doing to keep the day-to-day running of software and background stuff working and all in order. Things like system maintenance, organising upgrades, staying compliant, and also being the only person in the business who can run and deliver payroll to all employees of two companies - I do all this. I know that in the grand scheme of things, I’m just a Corporal Hicks (no offence, Corporal Hicks). I know that I’m not in the team of people who have to make things happen or guide the direction of the company, and I know I’m not important or in fact key to the business. I know all these things, and I thought I was ok with it.


Maybe I’m not. Maybe that’s why I unconsciously ‘push back’ as they call it when people ask my opinion on stuff that I believe is beyond my pay grade. I think this is what it comes down to.

Do you (a) help even though you know it’s not your place, and you don’t have access or knowledge because you’re not in the management team, so everything you say is stuff that they’re asking you to do even though it’s not your job and is way above you so they’re getting it for free, or (b) push back and say it’s not your place to say? If you do ‘a’, maybe you’re proving that you can handle the next pay grade so they can look at promoting or including you more - so if you do ‘b’ then you’re shooting yourself in the foot. But when you know there’s nowhere to go - there’s no position above you, no reason to invent one, and no promotion in sight, then why not do ‘b’?

A long time ago, I was the kind of person who would say that my job description has clear definitions, and I stay inside of those definitions. It wasn’t out of spite, or pay issues, or anything but doing what it says on the tin. If you want me to do more, then write it on the tin. Everyone knows where they stand, people know who to ask to do various tasks because they can look on the tins for guidance, and everyone’s happy.

Then I went through a long phase of ‘well if they ask for my help then I’ll help’ - because we’re all just people, and knowing why someone comes to you instead of picking up the other tin can make all the difference.

Now I’m passing that phase. Now I’m getting to the bitter, twisted phase of ‘why should I?’. Not because of a lack of money or power for me, but more a case of why do I always have to sort this out? It’s not even my fucking job and yet you always ask me to fix this or sort that, as if I get paid for this’. Lest we forget, the more time I’m doing other stuff not in my JD, the less time I have to do what I’m actually paid to do. It’s just math.

So I’m doing ‘b’ more than ‘a’. Will that hurt my chances of promotion? No, because there isn’t anywhere to go. Will that affect my chances of a pay rise? No, surprisingly - I do my JD and the general consensus is that I do it well, with no reason to give me less than 5 out of 5.

It looks like I have an answer, then. Except when I do push back, I get a certain look from my colleagues - you know the look. It’s the look that says ‘you’re not being helpful’. It’s the look that says ‘but I asked you to do it and you always do - why aren’t you doing it now?’. I don’t actually care too much. What is beginning to grate is the maturity of some of the people around me.

A few months ago, I would have said ‘maturity’ as in the stupid, me-me-me questions some people ask me about payroll because they’re actual 5 year olds and think the world revolves around them. Yes, we have a few of those. But in the next 6 - 12 months they’ll find that attitude untenable in the new work environment the CEO is bringing in, and they’ll either be gone or put right, so I don’t waste time thinking about them.

What I care about is the way someone who’s supposed to be my equal, and someone else who’s supposed to be my line manager, come across as immature. And I don’t mean they’re self-centred or selfish or childish or anything negative at all. They’re nice people, they’re normal people, they’re fine. We get on and have a laugh, or agree on why people are being dicks, etc. They really are ok.

What I'm talking about is their attitude to life in general. I don’t care if they go on about shoes they’ve bought or how much they hate their hair today or which ‘pretty’ shirt they pulled out of the wardrobe this morning. I can tune all that inane conversation out very easily. I don’t care about them talking about their boyfriends and what they did last night and what they said and how it was soooo funny because men don’t understand anything and it’s cute and they love them for it. As I said, inane shit = sorted.

It’s the lack of maturity as in lack of experience. They say they’re ‘stressed’ because they have to confront someone, or do something outside of their comfort zone, or think they have a lot to think about.

And it irritates me, I won’t lie. ‘Stress’ is knowing the mortgage or rent is due next week, and even after you’ve done everything you possibly can, you still can’t make it - and you haven’t even eaten yet. ‘Stress’ is looking at your long-term plan for life and knowing it’s all going to go wrong because of the government changing some loophole, or your lack of funds which you can’t do anything about. ‘Stress’ is not having a way to get to work due to money or a bad situation. It is not having a lot to do at work.

I think that’s it - I think I’ve hit the nail on the head: having to work with people less than two-thirds my age, who have very limited life experience and no capacity to think of the bigger picture. I know I’ve been more withdrawn at work lately - talking more to my unofficial other line manager - the one from another department, which my JD kind of makes me keep one foot in. He’s the same age as me, he doesn’t want to talk about shoes, he’s married to someone from another world (perspective speaking). He’s lived and worked overseas for a substantial amount of time, he’s got a small child and juggles that and a job that routinely has more work to do than time to do it. He has perspective and understands the difference between stress and just another day.

Since moving from abroad back to England, I’ve come up against a lot of limited people. Limited in their understanding, limited in their perspective, limited in their willingness to look beyond their own nose. It’s just taken me the last 12 months to realise that working under one of these people, with no idea of why I’m irritated most of the time, is starting to grate.

This is why when I write now it’s straight to the point; the ruthless, logical people survive and the fluffy ones are cannon fodder (gleefully so). Films like John Wick (1 and 2) appeal to me more than others, these days. I’m getting tired of everyone else’s slowness and fluffiness. I’m pretty sure that’s a sign of getting bitter and twisted, with the world in general, not people.

But then I see Star Trek Beyond for the seventh time I’m willing to try, to be a ‘normal’ person and give people a chance, to put up with annoying whiners and get on with it. It sticks for a few weeks. Then I need something else to give me a reason not to get angry with these limited people.

And the next Star Trek film is at least a year away.

I’ve been looking up working overseas again. And again it comes down to not having the right qualifications or certificates to enable a work visa - that old chestnut. It seems lack of university will again be my undoing. This world’s reliance on an out-dated and falsely-regarded education standard is still my nemesis.

And that’s where we leave it, friends. No degrees, no money to get degrees, and therefore no change in sight. Lovely. Just what I need to realise on a dreary Saturday afternoon.



Home Movies (II)


Last time I covered some Hong Kong and Asian films that I’d seen during the week. Well here are a few more, worthy of mentions to (1) remind myself that I’ve seen them, and (2) prove that I do actually blog here from time to time.

This time they were all Hong Kong movies.

Three (三人行)

Billed as a thriller, and starring two solid leads in Vicky Zhao (趙薇) and Louis Koo (古天樂), this character-study-cum-actioner revolves around a triad member being brought into a public hospital. He’s been shot in the head and should be in a coma but he’s not; the police who bring him in are edgy and arrogant, and as time goes on your realise what went down to cause the bloke to get shot in the first place. Tensions are high, a cat and mouse game plays out between the doctor, the police detective and the gangster, and apart from some weird bullet ballet bollocks toward the end, it all kind of makes sense. However, it’s not the most enthralling film I’ve seen, and to be honest there were moments where I picked up my phone to see if I had any email. Shout-out to Luvin Ho (菁瑋 / Ching Wai) for her performance as the dogsbody detective under Louis Koo. And bloody hell, but does Lam Suet (林雪) appear in every single film or what? A nice twist on his character, for a change.

Verdict: 7/10; would recommend if you’re into serious drama.

Election (黑社會)

This 2005 film is basically about the fight for the winning seat. Where is that, exactly? Only the head of all triad gangs in Hong Kong. Sought after about as much as the Iron Throne, it’s the MacGuffin that shows us what Simon Yam (任達華) will do to get it. Surrounded by some real powerhouses of HK cinema, he schemes and betrays whomever it takes to get the top spot. I can’t give away the ending, but I’m pretty sure it’s not what you're expecting. Good cast, solid drama, and a fresh look at what is shown to be a hundreds of years old system, and how it’s survived all this time. If you’re expecting knife fights by hordes of triads in the streets, then you’re going to be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for who will out-do who and how, then I can highly recommend this.

Verdict: 8/10; would recommend to everyone.

Election II (黑社會:以和爲貴)

This 2006 sequel does not disappoint. If you watched the first one and wondered why they always say ‘it’s the quiet ones you’ve got to watch’, then this is for you. More scheming, but this time for a completely different reason. Once again the big chair is up for grabs, and everyone is scrambling to get it - except one. Louis Koo (古天樂)’s character just wants a quiet life, but his loyalty and his ambition for things outside of the triad life are about to make things very complicated.

Verdict: 8.5/10; would recommend if just for the final few scenes. Class.

The Vampire Clean-Up Department (救僵清道夫)

This crew in this 2017 gem do what it says on the tin: clean-up vampires and any mess they make. A team of blokes who are definitely knocking-on are holed up in the basement of the Government Hygiene Department - one of the infamous refuse collection points stationed around the city. However, open the cupboard to one side and you enter the full-on world of talismans, protection sigils, enchanted weapons, and the crematorium which also serves as a place to boil the kettle when you need tea. Poor wee Tim, an orphan, is walking home one night when he thinks he sees someone beating up an old bloke down the ginnel. He summons what little courage he has and decides to intervene. He gets as far as shouting to the assailant before the action stops and he gets a very, very good look at the vampire chomping on the old dude. He tries to make a run for it but is brought to the ground and, in best HK comedy tradition, is bitten not in the neck but on the arse.

When he wakes up he’s at home and perfectly fine after his ordeal, and a couple of strange blokes are talking to his grandmother. She seems to be nuttier than a fruitcake, calling Tim by his father’s (her son’s) name and being generally away with the faeries. Tim is later drawn into the Vampire Clean-Up Department when he determines to find out what happened and how the people know his grandmother - and his dead parents.

A little predictable but made with a lot of heart, the comedy is not too strong and the plot easy to grasp. A few times it made me laugh out loud, and then there came the inevitable Mood Whiplash as a vampire he mistakenly woke up before he could cremate it becomes endearing when it really shouldn’t. A satisfying ending and a little twist to prove what they were banging on about halfway through - it’s all done and dusted and leaves you feeling pretty upbeat.

Verdict: 9/10; would recommend if you like a bit of fun, or the prospect of Supernatural operating out of the local rubbish department with a ragtag bunch of oddities who specialise in vampires.

Golden Chicken$$$ (金雞SSS)

Now then. The first Golden Chicken (金雞) from 2002 was a semi serious affair, designed to show everyone how you may think you have it bad, but there’s always something to be done, something to make it better. This narrative is eloquently put by Kam, the ‘golden chicken’, or damn good prostitute. In the middle of getting robbed, she sits the bloke down and proceeds to tell him her story - one that mirrors the ups and downs of Hong Kong life. Golden Chicken 2 (金雞2) came along in 2003, just after SARS had hit and turned most of the country into a ghost town, where people were afraid to go out, mingle, or simply be where other people were breathing. It was a pretty bleak time for all involved, as anyone who was trying to work during that year can attest to. I said goodbye to a lovely bright young lad who wasn't even six years old, who made everyone happy during every class he was in. A bad year indeed, but that was the point of the second film. The disease and its effects may have forced Hong Kong into a tailspin, but it didn’t last long; as the film showed with as much pathos as it did parody, the can-do spirit of Hong Kong people is indomitable when there’s still money to be made. A spoof on cinematic Oscar-bait, as well as poking fun at the entire prostitution racket in HK, it dealt with the trauma and heart of HKers during the whole black time.


It wasn’t until 2014 that an update appeared. This time Kam the prostitute is struggling as the mama-san of her own brothel; profits seem to be down and she’s always having to do things that gall her just to keep going. She decides to go to Japan to see how their business seems to be booming. A lot of laughs from this one in the first hour, including Louis Koo (古天樂 - him again) playing the Shenzhen version of himself (i.e. a knock-off) to fool a rich woman into thinking she’s actually getting a bit of the movie star. The cavalier way they take the piss out of business in the Mainland, as well as tourism, the current political climate and triads in particular, made me miss HK movies and the black comedy they can come out with. The spot-on English subtitles certainly helped with this - they even managed to recreate some of the innuendos and puns.

Verdict: 9/10; would recommend if you like bawdy comedy and social commentary mixed together, with an unapologetic yet sensitive wit.

And again, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Going to go and decide what’s next on the agenda, film-wise.

Soopytwist.

Going to the Pictures (III)



Been a bit thin on the ground recently - movies I want to see at the pictures, that is. But hey-ho- let’s go:

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales / Salazar’s Revenge (31st May 2017)

The subtitle of this changes depending on where you see it, but basically it’s the new Pirates film. Overlong, a little boring in places - I remember checking my watch about three times during the film, and the last time I did that was for Passengers. The cast were good, the action set pieces were creative, but at the end of the day it felt like the film was just going through the motions waiting for someone to do anything that would it bring it closer to achieving the plot.

Verdict: 6/10; would recommend if you’re too young to care about plot, or just a die-hard Pirates fan.

Wonder Woman (4th June 2017, 14th June 2017)

Good visuals, good cast, some great moments, some nice wrap-ups, and a tonne of stuff I won’t go into here that made it awesome to be a woman in a cinema seat for a change. I saw it twice, and while the shine was definitely off the second time, I was glad I got to see it again so I could verify how I felt the first time - and find it just as good. All I’m saying is, out of Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman, Suicide Squad, and Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman had the lowest budget ($149M) but (to date) is only $100M behind Batman vs Superman in worldwide takings - and it’s still showing. I’m not the only one who voted with their dollars, then.

Verdict: 9/10; would definitely recommend to everyone.

The Mummy (15th June 2017)

I went into this hoping for a new take on the whole thing, and obviously looking forward to how Universal was going to launch a new universe. Much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) or the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), this was slated to launch a whole slew of reboots or remakes or re-imaginings of all your favourite Universal horror movies of the glorious black and white age. A solid movie, with good performances (worth seeing for Russell Crowe alone!) and good set pieces, it was only held back by the inclusion of Tom Cruise. Now don’t get me wrong; I like Tom Cruise and I like Tom Cruise movies. However, this was not a Tom Cruise movie, this was a universe-launching semi-horror, semi-action feature film, and he should not have been cast. If a near-unknown had been cast, then (a) it could have made that newbie and (b) it would have been a totally different film. It had some humour to it, it had some suspense and is definitely worth a rewatch. However, Annabelle Wallis could have carried the film without Tom Cruise, and in fact the ending would have been much more satisfying if Tom Cruise’s part had been played by a woman. Just sayin’.

Verdict: 8/10; would recommend for Russell Crowe alone. And then there’s some laughs and some scenes verging on wannabe-horror.

Baby Driver (Cineworld Unlimited Screening, 20th June 2017)

Relative unknowns, Kevin Spacey, a horde of other famous faces in the background, a killer soundtrack, the inclusion of people on opposite ends of the same disability spectrum, and some driving set pieces that will blow your mind. What else could you want? A fitting ending, a good way to tell it, and just a solid film that leaves you feeling uplifted, despite the subject matter and the carnage along the way. Thank you, Edgar Wright.

Verdict: 9/10; would definitely recommend.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (6th July 2017)

Harmless, fun, cute, accessible by a younger generation, this is a feel-good film that doesn’t want to upset people as it’s taking us through Peter Parker’s first forays as the Spider-Man. Good lines, good scenes, some nice throwbacks to the animated series, and of course it all ties in well to the other MCU films. Michael Keaton is awesome as always, and everything pootles along easily enough. Didn’t check my watch once. And just for once, we didn’t have to sit through Uncle Ben dying for the billionth time.

Verdict: 7/10; would recommend if you're bored. Best end-end Marvel credits scene of all time.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print. There are a tonne of blockbusters supposedly coming out soon, so hopefully we’ll be able to go back to going every Thursday night, instead of every other week.

Soopy-twist.